Poppy flower is important symbol to honor military in May

Poppies worn on National Poppy Day and Memorial Day

By Julie Moreno - Executive Producer/Social Media

Poppy wall, courtesy of USAA

SAN ANTONIO - Memorial Day is often seen as the start of summer. People make plans for barbecues and boating. But the military community is hoping people will honor the true meaning behind the holiday.

Memorial Day is a day to honor the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Memorial Day started out in 1868 as “Decoration Day” and was observed on May 30.

“It is believed that date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country,” according to the website, VA.gov.

Flowers are still an important symbol of Memorial Day. Many people leave flowers on the graves of fallen veterans. And one flower, in particular, has come to represent the somber holiday. The poppy is officially recognized as a symbol of remembrance.

May 24 is National Poppy Day. The American Legion encourages people to wear poppies to “remember the fallen and support the living.”

The poppy is also the official memorial flower of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. Veterans in VA hospitals across the United States assemble “Buddy Poppies”- little, red artificial flowers that people can wear in memory of members of the military who were killed in action. The sale of those Buddy Poppies helps fund VFW initiatives.

USAA is also encouraging people to honor men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice by wearing a poppy, dedicating a virtual poppy online at PoppyInMemory.com, or by posting your tributes on social media using #PoppyinMemory.

Flanders Field; image courtesy of USAA.

In Flanders Fields
Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead: Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved: and now we lie
In Flanders fields!

Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields

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